The Australian government is in the process of passing a law that requires payment for linking to news sites, which to my mind is a horrible idea, and Mark Zuckerberg's response to all of this is to have Facebook ban all Australian news content from their platform.
Granted, Australia is not a huge market, at 25 million people, it's only about 5 million more people than the New York City metropolitan area, but this ham-fisted response is going to do a lot of damage to Facebook while mildly inconveniencing the people of Australia.
I don't expect Zuckerberg to cave, and in that case, I see Australia generally moving to some other source of rumors, genocidal racists, fascism, and cat pix.
The Australians are a hardy and inventive people:
Facebook has followed through on its threat to ban Australians from seeing or posting news content on its site in response to the federal government’s news media code.It gets even worse, because Facebook f%$#ed up the rollout of the ban, shutting down non-profits and government agencies as well:
The tech giant’s Australian and New Zealand managing director, Will Easton, said this would block links to Australian publishers from being posted, while no Australian users would be able to share or see content from any news outlets, both Australian and international.
“The proposed law fundamentally misunderstands the relationship between our platform and publishers who use it to share news content,” he said in a blog post published on Thursday morning. “It has left us facing a stark choice: attempt to comply with a law that ignores the realities of this relationship, or stop allowing news content on our services in Australia.
“With a heavy heart, we are choosing the latter.”
Users on Thursday reported seeing a pop-up error window when they attempted to post links to news, stating these cannot be posted in response to the news media code.
Facebook’s move is in contrast to the approach from the other major platform subject to the code, Google.
Although Google had threatened to withdraw its search engine from Australia if the code went ahead, in the past week, Google has signed agreements with some of Australia’s biggest publishers, including News Corp, Nine Entertainment and Seven West Media, for payment for its News Showcase product. The Nine deal is reportedly worth $30m a year.
The Bureau of Meteorology, state health departments, the Western Australian opposition leader, charities and Facebook itself are among those to have been hit by Facebook’s ban on news in Australia.
On Thursday morning Facebook began preventing Australian news sites from posting, while also stopping Australian users from sharing or viewing content from any news outlets, both Australian and international.
The social media giant said it made the decision in response to the news media bargaining code currently before the Senate, which would force Facebook and Google to negotiate with news companies for payment for content.
As Australia prepares to begin the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines, state health departments, including SA Health and Queensland Health, were unable to post.
St Vincent’s Health in Melbourne said it was “extremely concerning” its Facebook page had been blocked “during a pandemic and on the eve of crucial Covid vaccine distribution”.
Facebook is claiming that this was a "Mistake."
If you believe that, I have a bridge in Melbourne made completely of Koala poop to sell you.